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How to sterilise jars

January 14, 2009

As well as telling me how many visitors I’ve had, my blog stats also include the google search terms which people used and were directed to my blog. One search that comes up on an almost daily basis is “how to sterilise jars” so I thought I’d write a little bit about that. I’m a helpful soul really!

There are a variety of ways you can sterilise your jars. I do it by washing the jars and lids in very hot (as hot as I can bear) soapy water, rinsing them off, shaking off any excess water, then putting them in a low oven for about 10 minutes or until dry.

Alternatively you can put them in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes.

If you have a dishwasher, a very simple way to sterilise your jars is to put them through a hot dishwasher cycle. 


  • Don’t use jars that are cracked or chipped.
  • Most jams, chutneys and marmalade should be poured into warm jars to stop the preserve from cooling too quickly before it’s sealed – so try to time your sterilsing to tie in with when the preserve will be ready for potting. 
  • Don’t put hot jars directly onto a cold surface (such as a marble worktop)- the sudden change in temperature can cause the jar to crack. 
12 Comments leave one →
  1. erinstark permalink
    August 1, 2009 8:20 am

    Thanks for this! I’ve got a whole heap of olives to pickle but didn’t know where to start with sterilising the jars… many thanks 🙂

  2. Jo Law permalink
    August 4, 2009 3:30 pm

    Hi – I have been searching the internet for a correct sterilising method but all of them seem to differ!!! The above method seems fairly straight forward but I am now confused about lids as lots of sites tell me not to use metal lids with vinegar as in a chutney and also not to use paper or clingfilm lids? It also seems I can either put hot chutney into hot jars and cooled chutney into cold jars – is one any better than the other? Can anyone help? I am thouroghly confused now. Thanks.

  3. August 4, 2009 5:32 pm


    Thanks for your comment. Regarding the lids, you can use metal lids so long as they have a plastic lining – the vinegar in the chutney can react with the metal otherwise. Most lids do seem to come with the lining these days and I usually get mine from Lakeland. You shouldn’t really use the cellophane covers with chutney as these allow evaporation and your chutney could dry out and shrink in the jar. An alternative to lids and jars are the clip down glass le parfait jars or kilner jars although these cost quite a bit more than normal jam jars.

    I’m not sure if you saw my other “how to” pages but there’s some suggestions for potting and sealing here:

    As to potting, I think it’s best to hot fill warm jars and seal straight away as this reduces the chance of bacteria getting onto your chutney and spoiling it. The only time I allow a preserve to cool a little before potting is if I’m making something with large chunks in (such as marmalade) as this stops the pieces from floating to the top when you pour into the jars.

    Anyhow, hope this helps. Good luck with your chutney making!

  4. Gill permalink
    July 20, 2010 1:56 pm

    Hi, love your websites! Am in need of your advice! For many years I have successfully made pickles/chutneys in washed sterilised (any old)jars, with no problems re mould etc. Have treated myself to some clip top jars and not sure if all is well….Sterilised the jars, then the seals separately as advised. Potted after 10 mins into the warm jars, then closed the lid, an hour has gone by and there is condensation under the lid – is this okay? I’m concerned there is the possibility it will go mouldy. I may of course be panicking prematurely, but I’d rather take it out, heat it back up and do it my usual way rather than find it’s all grotty when Christmas comes….Thank You 🙂

  5. April 17, 2011 3:00 am

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve previously boiled jars small enough to fit in a saucepan but could not find a solution for the larger jars. I’ll now try the hot water wash / oven combination.

  6. July 14, 2011 8:23 am

    Hello! I have the same question as Gill – I also have condensation under the lid having filled my jars with jam… Any advice? Thank you! 😀

  7. Kelly-Jo permalink
    September 9, 2011 3:00 pm

    Thank you for your wise words, I was looking to sterilise jars for sloe gin, now I seem to be hooked on your blog 🙂

  8. September 13, 2011 10:19 pm

    Hi, after having a couple of kids, i was left with an electric bottle steriliser. I stopped using it as my daughter got older and I was about to get rid of it when i realised it would be great for sterilising my jars. It will fit 4 large jars (500g size) & there lids, will steam them up to a high temperature so that they are ready to put the chutney/jam straight into, whilst sterilising at the same time. No more putting the jars in the cooker. I would recommend them to anyone who makes homemade jam/chutneys 😎

  9. October 4, 2011 11:09 am

    Thank you so much for helping me sterilise my jars today. The chutney is lovely (if a little spicy : ) Chloe (Oxfordshire.)


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